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Final Fantasy IV Advance (Game Boy Advance) Review

Review for Final Fantasy IV Advance on Game Boy Advance - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The Final Fantasy series is by far and away the most popular in its genre on a worldwide basis, only being out-stripped in Japan by Square Enix's other RPG, Dragon Quest. Currently we have had the first two games ported to the GBA, III is coming to the DS, whilst V and VI are due at the end of 2006. Now is the time to focus on Final Fantasy IV Advance. Is the nostalgia trip worth the investment this time round?

As the Western world finally gets its head around the crazy numbering system that Nintendo enforced on the Final Fantasy series, Nintendo fans are now getting what they previously knew as Final Fantasy II on the SNES. In fact, we are getting the better of the two versions of that game (the hard Japanese version, not the watered-down US release), so it should be time to rejoice as you take control of Cecil once more. For those completely new to this adventure, Cecil is the Captain of the Red Wings, an elite group ordered by the King of Baron to travel the world obtaining special crystals by any means necessary. After a certain amount of unnecessary deaths, Cecil's conscience gets the better of him, but he finds that questioning his King is a very foolish mistake and is forced to suffer the consequences. And so begins a twisting and turning tale in such a simple fashion...

And whilst you are not going to find the fancy full motion video clips that were shoe-horned into the PSone ports, the whole adventure will still leave you smiling joyfully at your little GBA. Those that have played FFII on the SNES will automatically see the difference, whilst newcomers will be equally pleased by how sharply detailed the small characters and enemies are, plus how majestic the towns, villages, kingdoms, dungeons and so on all are. The intricacy of the graphical detail is truly wondrous and whether played on the tiny GBA resolution or big screen via a Game Boy Player, FFIV comes to life in a way that only Square Enix seems to be able to achieve. Add in beautifully hand-drawn styled new character profiles and you cannot get much better on the little handheld.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IV Advance on Game Boy Advance - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The same is true with the audio aspect of FFIV, again as per usual for the talented chaps and chapettes at Square Enix (or TOSE, who stealthily worked on this port; ninja developers strike again!). Nobuo Uematsu is once again on-hand to provide a soundtrack that is as much moving as it is jolly, exciting, uplifting and even crazy at times! The variety of tunes that trickle through the speakers of whatever system you are playing on (GBA, micro, SP, DS or even GameCube-Game Boy Player) are all ones that reach inside and stir up feelings your gaming heart that immerse you in the game more, helping to make the whole experience even better than before.

The basics of the Final Fantasy series are all here present and correct for the fourth in the RPG series. However, it was in this game that some new features were introduced, features that have been re-used and fine-tuned over the years up until Final Fantasy XII. Many believe they are ultimately what made the series so popular for so many years. The game, in between thrilling gamers with its tale of the protagonist, the Dark Knight Cecil, seeking salvation, joining forces with unlikely new friends and putting his life on the line for his cause, adds Active Time Battle into the mix for the first time in the series. So players can actively choose between ATB, where enemies can attack whenever they are ready, but the whole process is sped up (ideal for quick handheld gaming bursts), or stick with the tried-and-tested, slower turn-based fighting mode. To go hand-in-hand with the ATB there are the abilities to simply hold down attack, which can quickly set all your team off fighting (perfect for flying through annoying random encounter moments), as well as being able to save whenever you want.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IV Advance on Game Boy Advance - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Final Fantasy IV seems perfectly suited in its new portable format. Along with its perfectly translated script, which adds far more to the story development than ever before, gamers can now indeed save wherever they want using the Quick Save function (which disappears upon restart) or the normal main save on map screens and at save points in dungeons. This is in addition to the plot twists that come at you thick and fast, making the game more of an authentic Final Fantasy experience. Battling is fast paced as well, so that the immense number of random battles can be breezed through very quickly. When in a hurry, simply hold down the attack button and your characters will all fly through the default attack routine. And you do not have to worry about enemies dying from one attack and the next player losing its turn as there is no bad guy to hit. That little annoyance is a thing of the past as when foes are despatched, backlog moves are transferred to the next beast in line. Less frustration equals a far better game!

There are several extra features to make the port even more worthwhile. The main ones that should be noted are the inclusion of rear and front battle formations, lovely new character portraits, a few entirely new boss characters to battle against and two exclusive dungeons, never before seen. This really does extend the game for those that have played through it before, plus you can even recruit other people to your team towards the end of the adventure, play some mini-games, check what enemies you have come across in the Bestiary and listen to your favourite tracks in the audio player. These more than make up for little niggles, such as a small glitch during battles, which means turns are sometimes skipped or two turns are granted, depending on the luck of the glitch draw, or the odd moment of slowdown during hectic times!

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IV Advance on Game Boy Advance - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

For those that are blissfully unaware of the Final Fantasy and games of its ilk, you line-up wit your team on one side of the screen, whilst the enemies face you. Then you work through a menu-based system to fight, use magic, summon allied monsters, defend yourself or use whatever item you so desire. It is a simple set up, but works well, especially with the different standards of character in the team, with some better at full-on attack and others at holding back to hurl magic instead. Therefore skill and strategy must be applied, rather than blindly charging through the game. FFIV was the first FF to have Chocobos as well, the yellow birds that let you ride around avoiding random battles so again, strategising the best way to entice them to help you will make journeys through specific sections far less painful. All Final Fantasy games are of high quality, but this particular outing will still surprise many with how robust it is, even now many years after the original version. Thoroughly recommended!

Being a Final Fantasy game you should know by now that once you have made that purchase, the game is not going anywhere fast. Lots of random enemy encounters, a gripping storyline, stacks of side-quests, the requirement to level up enough to beat specific bosses, all the basic exploration, chatting with everyone around you for useful pieces of information and even extras such as the bestiary and new dungeons. All are traits that make Final Fantasy IV Advance worth every penny and leave your GBA's battery crying! Do not be surprised to pour at least forty hours into this adventure...

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IV Advance on Game Boy Advance- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Other than minor glitches that most gamers will not really notice, the game has been balanced, developed and structured better to offer up the best ever version of FFIV.

Graphics

The game looks stunning and only loses one small point due to a modicum of slowdown that occurs when too much is going on at once.

Sound

Nobuo Uematsu's score is just as magnificent as he usual work for Squaresoft and there are even updated remixes included for this version!

Value

With around forty hours of pure gameplay, plus lots of little (and not so little) extras, FFIV Advance is one of the most worthwhile GBA packages to date.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

How can any RPG fan worth their salt pass up this offering from Square Enix? After the enrapturing Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls, Final Fantasy IV Advance stands as yet another must-have role-playing experience for the humble GBA. Roll on FFV and FFVI...

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28.06.2006

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Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It's a shame there only seemed to be a limited run of stock for this. But hey, at least it peaked at No.8 in the GBA Top 20, unlike FFI&II, which didn't even CRACK the 20 at all!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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